How well has Wanikani improved your Japanese learning?

IMMENSELY ! I attended language school last year (started at N4 level and finished the final N3 class before I left) and I was quite a bit ahead of most of my class in terms of kanji (except the students from kanji using backgrounds, obviously). Reading was MUCH easier for me compared to other students that came from English orientated countries.
I think it was half because of WK and half because I am now 2k words into the iKnow Core 6k deck. These two things gave me something tangible to stick to, 20 lessons and 20 new words a day, and I was frequently solidifying things from running into them in the “wild” in Japan. I cannot recommend either enough. Kanji is no longer scary and intimidating to learn lol.

1 Like

I’m only on level 5 now, but it’s honestly helped a lot because I got to solidify my knowledge of the kanji I was iffy on (I’ve learned this in college but what does it mean again? how do you read this again?) and I picked up a lot of kanji and vocab that I didn’t already know before.

Sure not all of it is essential, but it’s like I could read and understand sentences if I had furigana and now I don’t need to depend on it, and I actually will catch myself picking up a lot of kanji and words that I just learned and going, “wow!! I know what that means!!” And just with that, it made me a lot more motivated to try seriously studying Japanese, so I’m very thankful for that.

Before, I was just learning kanji from the textbooks, writing them in flashcards and writing the kanji 10x so it could stick in my memory because that’s apparently what native Japanese speakers did in school to learn kanji. But I’m not in a school with my grades at stake anymore, so there was nothing rewarding or motivational about that process. WK really made the kanji learning process so much more fun.

I probably wouldn’t be studying kanji without it. Which means I wouldn’t be studying Japanese, because WK is the easiest study method I have, and I probably wouldn’t actually bother with setting up Anki (although I’ve used it for other things).

In the grand scheme, I still can’t read most things - if it’s not kanji I don’t know yet tripping me up, it’s unfamiliar vocab, or struggles with grammar. But I can read some things, and take vague guesses at what others are talking about, which is very different from written Japanese being almost completely opaque.

I can’t help but feel like this is similar to asking contestants on The Great British Baking Show if they like cake. :slight_smile:

I’m less than halfway through and WK has already made almost shocking improvements to my Japanese.

I can finally read most everyday email and text communication without too much effort (only occasionally resorting to the wonderful Yomichan chrome extension). This is literally life-changing for me (with half my family in Japan).

It’s improved my vocabulary immensely. Not only have I learned completely new words, I finally completely understand words that were previously only somewhat familiar. I find myself actually recalling and using words that I’d previously only vaguely recognized. Learning the composition of compound words has helped me to understand why certain words mean the things they do and helped me remember how they are pronounced.

It’s also, surprisingly, helped a bit with my grammar in spoken conversation, primarily with transitive/intransitive pairs. The constant drilling has reduced my common mistakes dramatically.

I 100% cannot imagine any westerner trying to learn Japanese today without using WK. WK alone isn’t sufficient, but boy does it make one of the most critical aspects (learning Kanji) easier.

Without WaniKani, I probably wouldn’t have started learning Kanji at all. At Level12 I already enjoy basic texts and easy books and it really supplements my Minna no nihongo studies. It also taught me a lot about discipline I think. I might not always do new lessons (they somehow always pile up) BUT I will always do my reviews so I’m down to 0 by the end of the week. This might mean going through 300 reviews in one sitting but I’ll do it and be very proud afterwards :princess:

WaniKani actually introduced me to the whole SRS thing so now I’m looking for ways to incorporate that into my other languages :slight_smile:

That resonates so strongly with me. I’ve been conversing with friends, family, and co-workers in (broken) Japanese for much more than 20 years. I thought I’d hit a plateau decades ago and resigned myself to not getting any better. I’d quite literally given up improving my spoken Japanese, much less reading and writing.

Then I was exposed to spaced repetition by Darrel at Guo Juan’s Internet Go School. This led me to Anki (which I didnt even realize was a Japanese word!).

It wasn’t until I stumbled onto Wanikani, though, that I truly understood the power of an SRS. WK’s design is simply outstanding and the sensibilities and passion of the people creating the content behind it are awe-inspiring. Every other SRS I’ve even heard about pales by comparison.

I believe it’s far, far, FAR more efficient to learn kanji first rather than stumbling around with conversation/vocabulary/grammar for decades as I did.

I keep reading here of people well over level 40 bemoaning their struggles with listening comprehension and spoken conversation. I suspect they’ll progress much faster than we did since they already have most of the necessary vocabulary.

I’m oddly comfortable holding long conversations in Japanese, even though I misunderstand and simply miss an awful lot. It’s tiring, but I’m used to it from long practice. WK is filling in the gaps and correcting my misunderstandings astonishingly well.

I wonder if other’s struggles with listening comprehension are most often due to “hearing” the words incorrectly in their lessons. I wonder if it would help if the sample sentences also included spoken audio files (like WK includes with kanji and vocabulary)? I can “hear” the sample sentences pretty clearly in my mind (from decades of listening to native speakers) but I wonder if this would help those less familiar.

2 Likes